Discovering Detroit: Bentley Historical Library releases new guide

October 16, 2001

ANN ARBOR—In celebration of Detroit’s 300th anniversary, the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library released a guide which details the library’s resources on Detroit.

Compiled by Thomas Powers, archivist, and Leonard Coombs, associate archivist, the guide lists all Detroit-related books, maps, manuscripts and archival materials that the Library has collected since its founding in 1935.

Powers believes that most people are unaware of the Bentley Historical Library’s wealth of resources. “People might think that because we’re based in Ann Arbor, we don’t have a lot of material on Detroit,” says Powers. “We want to let people know that we do have Detroit material and, hopefully, this guide will encourage research on Detroit themes.”

The holdings documented in the guide are arranged according to specific categories such as ethnic communities, religious life (churches and other organizations, clergy and other persons), African American life and contributions. Within each category, materials are listed alphabetically. Included with each entry are dates of collection, size, brief biographical or institutional information, and a description of the contents.

Materials listed in the Detroit guide cover a range of Detroit’s history, from the Civil War era through the 1980s. The Detroit Urban League’s records date back to 1916. Celebrated for its contribution to jobs, housing, and the social concerns of African Americans, the Detroit Urban League is, according to Powers, one of the most important urban chapters in the United States. With more than 96 feet of material, “the Detroit Urban League collection is one of our most heavily used collections,” says Powers.

The Detroit guide was created both as a contribution to the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Detroit and to serve faculty and students enrolled in the Detroit 300 Theme Semester courses. Additional copies of the guide are available for interested members of the U-M community and can be requested by calling the Bentley Historical Library (734) 764-3482.


Bentley Historical Libraryethnic communitiesDetroit Urban League’s recordsDetroit 300 Theme Semester